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Parish, Catholic Charities respond to Omaha-area storms

Two Catholic groups are responding with help to Bellevue and other Omaha-area residents as they recover from tornadoes, straight-line winds and heavy rain that struck June 16, destroying or damaging several homes, knocking down power lines, trees and fences. 

St. Mary Parish in Bellevue opened its parish center and Catholic Charities will take applications for assistance as people clean up from the storms.

Volunteers at the parish center helped more than two dozen storm victims June 17-18 with donuts, other snacks and coffee, lunches and a place to charge cell phones, use personal computers and cool off in air conditioning, said Collette Borland, the parish’s business manager.

The president of the Ladies Guild, Kathie Bickerstaff, and members of a parish support group for mothers helped spark and staff the assistance, Borland said.

Through a second collection at Sunday Masses, St. Mary Parish also gathered more than $4,500 to help meet families’ emergency needs through the parish chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Borland said. Volunteers remain available at the parish to help families as need arises, she said.

“It was a community coming together,” Borland said. “I think we’ll keep coming together for a while.”

Officials with Catholic Charities in Omaha also are offering assistance to families with emergency financial needs after insurance settlements and other aid is taken into account, said Deacon David Klein, the agency’s director of facilities and disaster response coordinator.

People facing high deductibles, lost work time and other financial stresses directly related to the storms can be considered for assistance, even months after the event, he said.

“It’s not only Catholics,” he said. “We help anybody and everybody, regardless of faith.”

For more information about Catholic Charities’ assistance, people can contact Deacon Klein at 402-554-0520 or by email at davidk@ccomaha.org.

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